The spring issue of The Baker Street Journal arrived yesterday, almost as if the publisher was trying to hit the date of Sherlock Holmes meeting Moriarty at Reichenbach. As the contents of this issue were heavily Reichenbach-weighted, I'm leaning toward this theory over one where Rothman, Doyle, and company waited for the last snows to finally and truly be done before declaring it to be officially spring.
You will have to forgive the title of today's blog, as it may seem that I'm casting the BSJ in the role of Hitler if you're familiar with a certain song lyric. But that's hardly the case. I just like The Producers too much to let the chance pass. And this issue of The Baker Street Journal sure bears the least comparison to Adolf Hitler possible, when compared to at least one other Sherlockian publication I can think of this year.
Editor Steve, not to be confused with publisher Steve, does a fine job of leading the issue off by stating that the modern excitement about Holmes is no different than that of anytime past: "Few may choose to write scholarship or attend the BSI Weekend, but all of them play the Game in their own way and deserve the title Sherlockian." And he then goes on to back his statement with some wonderfully diverse, and yet somewhat theme-oriented contents.
Now, I could walk through the contents article by article as I have done occasionally in the past (who else reviews individual issues of the BSJ?), but this time I think I'll stick to my favorites among this quarter's fine crop.
My favorite piece this issue had to be Nick Dunn-Meynell's "Thinking Like Sherlock." His lead-in puts BBC's Sherlock episode "The Reichenbach Fall" into a perfect historical perspective: We have been given a chance to solve a mystery that has been lacking in Sherlockian culture since pre-1900, the chance to figure out how Sherlock Holmes escaped death. He follows with internet theories and his own analysis, bringing us a very complete and admirable package on "Fall." Well done, Mr. Dunn-Meynell.
And while all of the issue's contents are pretty solid, I would also single out "Mycroft's Malady: Sleep Apnea" by Richard Leung for a.) bringing modern knowledge into our Victorian Canon, and b.) not being Sherlock Holmes and Asperger's (which I think is a load of crap). Also worth a stand-out mention: "Sherlock and the Moon" by Arthur Levine, a look at Holmes's many connections to that near-astral body.
I like new ideas, and this issue was full of them.
Even the coverage of the ever-repeating BSI Weekend seemed a little fresher this time around, taking many voices to cover its many events and capturing the thrill many a new visitor to the weekend feels. By the time I got to my annual grumpy point: that doggerel-in-the-daytime, the Sherlockian year in verse (Let it go, folks. Not everything needs to be a tradition.), I was feeling quite congenial toward even that bit. (Still, let it go.)
But you know me, I have to be crabby about something, even a fairly excellent issue of The Baker Street Journal. I'm getting up there in years, and it's what we crabby old folks do. And here's what bugged me about this issue of the BSJ:
Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor is on the cover. A man whom every other villain portrayed upon that cover would have ended with a flick of a pinky finger. A villain whose work, however showy, would insult Professor Moriarty. (Catastophes to change real estate prices? Really? Society half-destroyed and he expects the real estate system to remain unaffected?) Lex Luthor drawn in comic book form might have been a worthy addition to the cover, but the Gene Hackman version? Pfui!
He has to be the worst man ever to appear on a cover of the BSJ. But, given that it might be one of the best issues, I suppose we can all take that in stride.